Shuttle Astronauts Take Time Off in Space
Astronauts Charles O. Hobaugh (top left), STS-129 commander; Barry E. Wilmore (bottom right), pilot; Leland Melvin and Nicole Stott, both mission specialists, pose for a photo in the Quest airlock of the International Space Station during the November 2009 mission.
Credit: NASA

Astronauts aboard the linked shuttle Atlantis and International Space Station took some well-deserved time off Sunday to rest up from their mission to stock up the orbiting lab, with one spaceflyer overjoyed after hearing news of the birth of his new baby daughter.

Atlantis astronaut Randy Bresnik kicked off the day by announcing that his wife Rebecca had given birth overnight to a healthy baby girl.

"I just wanted to take this opportunity to report some good news," Bresnik radioed Mission Control. ?At 11:04 p.m. last night, Abigail Mae Bresnik joined the NASA family.?

Bresnik, and his crewmates, had been waiting for two days for news of the birth, which was initially expected Friday. The Bresniks named the baby, their second child, Abigail Mae. They also have a son, Wyatt, who is 3 1/2.

"It is a fantastic event for the Bresnik family," said lead station flight director Brian Smith in a Saturday briefing before the birth.

Today, Atlantis astronauts spent part of their Sunday resting up and discussing their spaceflight with reporters. They will also prepare for their mission?s third and last spacewalk, a 6 1/2-hour excursion by Bresnik and crewmate Robert Satcher, Jr., which is set for early Monday.

"Tomorrow is going to be off-duty time," Smith said. "The mission is proceeding extremely well. The shuttle crew is doing great. The station crew is doing great."

Atlantis? six STS-129 crewmembers arrived at the orbital outpost Nov. 18, joining six other spaceflyers already on the station for long-term missions of their own. Everyone is getting some down time Sunday, Smith said, though some astronauts on both crews will work part-time to transfer equipment from the shuttle to the station and back, and to investigate false alarms that have been plaguing the orbital outpost lately.

"We'll get some more insight into what's going on," Smith said of the tests planned for Sunday. Saturday night was a quiet one for the astronauts after two straight days of interrupted sleep due to the alarms.

Atlantis astronauts have completed two spacewalks and a host of robotics work so far. Their mission is a supply trip, outfitting the station with large spare parts to have on hand in case something breaks.

Today will likely be a quiet day, allowing the Atlantis astronauts to rest and enjoy being in space before powering through the rest of their mission, including another spacewalk scheduled for Monday.

Atlantis and her crew are slated to depart the orbiting laboratory Wednesday and return home to Earth Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

While six astronauts, led by commander Charlie Hobaugh, launched on the shuttle last week, seven are scheduled to ride Atlantis back to Earth. NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, who's been serving onboard the station as a flight engineer for about three months, is due to cap off her long-duration trip and join the crew for the ride home.

Stott celebrated her birthday in space on Saturday. "Out of this world birthday today!" she wrote via Twitter, under the name "Astro_Nicole."

 SPACE.com is providing complete coverage of Atlantis' STS-129 mission to the International Space Station with Staff Writer Clara Moskowitz and Managing Editor Tariq Malik based in New York. Click here for shuttle mission updates and a link to NASA TV.